The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has called for a bipartisan approach to energy policy to avoid job losses and business closures.
Ombudsman Kate Carnell says the small business sector faces being crippled by rising electricity costs and reduced reliability if the status quo remains.
Ms Carnell said both sides of politics should endorse the Finkel Report and adopt its recommendations.
“Business as usual is no longer an option. Business as usual is lack of reliable power and exponential price increases,” she said.
“If Parliament obfuscates and refuses to get behind Finkel it will cause small business closures and job losses, it’s that simple.
“What we’ve seen up until now is a perception from both sides that there are more political brownie points in shooting down the other side than there is in coming up with a solution.
“The most important issue here is that support from all sides of politics for Finkel gives investment confidence.
“These investments are long term. You don’t invest in power for two, three or five years.
“It’s for the long term and investors need confidence there’s not going to be another change of policy when there’s a change of government.”
Ms Carnell said the Finkel Report provides a framework that’s not technology specific. It doesn’t rule in or out any form of generation.
“The report’s whole focus is it allows any technology to occur inside certain parameters of emissions,” she said.
“It would allow a current coal-fired power station to be upgraded significantly to make it more carbon efficient, but it also gives rewards for low-emissions technology.
“There are no penalties but there are rewards. It’s not a carbon tax because no revenue flows to government.
“We understand there are a number of projects ready to go. Without confidence that there won’t be policy change the investors are not willing to take the risk, which is totally understandable.
“The major issue right now is investor confidence.”